Color is a recurring theme in nature. Colorful flowers attract insects and birds, which help in pollination and propagation of plant species. However, when it comes to farm produce like fruits and vegetables, color is an indication of the type and quantum of nutrition available in the produce.
Food color groups
Fruits and vegetables can be divided into the following groups based on their color.
- Yellow or orange: The yellow or orange color found in squash, pumpkin, mango, orange, papaya, tangerine, peach, pineapple, cantaloupe, nectarine, etc. comes from beta carotenoids and bio-flavanoids. These antioxidants help fight cancer, improve immunity and eyesight, and strengthen the skeletal system. Furthermore, they are rich in Vitamin C required to heal, repair or replace damaged tissue of our body.
- Red: The prominent red color in beetroot,tomato, watermelon, grapefruit, strawberry, and cherry comes from micronutrients such as anthocyanins, lycopene and resveratrol. These phyto-nutrients have powerful anti-oxidant properties which help fight cancer, improve immunity, maintain good eyesight, reduce inflammation, enhance heart health and preserve overall good health.
- Violet-blue-purple: This characteristic color found in eggplant, blueberries, blackberries, purple grapes, figs, and plums comes from either anthocyanins or phenolic. These phytonutrients help fight free radicals and provide immunity against cancer. They fight as well urinary tract infections and help regulate blood pressure.
- Green: Bright green color is prominent in the following produce: cucumber, asparagus, artichoke, okra, cabbage, broccoli; leafy vegetables such as spinach, parsley, and lettuce; fruits such as lime, melons, kiwi and avocados. The color comes from chlorophyll and phytonutrients such as lutein and indoles. While indoles help fight cancer, lutein maintains eye health by preventing cataracts and macular degeneration. They are rich in potassium and calcium too.
- White: Fruits and vegetables such as onion, garlic, radish, pears and bananas derive their characteristic white color from allicin, anthoxanthins, and bio-flavanoids. They are rich as well in niacin and riboflavin. These nutrients help fight cancer, stroke, high BP, high cholesterol and heart ailments.
- Black: Black rice, black beans, black lentils, etc. are richer in phytonutrients that have antioxidant properties compared to those of fresh produce of other colors. While they are rich in some minerals like copper, iron, and potassium, they are low in others such as manganese and zinc. Their protein content too is one of the highest.
Mixing and matching food based on colors
You must consume a healthy mix of farm produce from every color group in order to ensure your body adequate nutrition. You should not make the mistake of allocating one day in a week for one color and eating the food of that color all through the day; this can trigger an adverse reaction from your body.
A better option is to prepare salads, starters and main course using one or more colored vegetable and fruit. Dessert could be pastries combined with a fruit or a fruit salad, while fruit and vegetable juices serve as a refreshing drink.
Consuming fresh fruits and vegetables, therefore,is the most effective natural way to combat disease and maintain health. Incorporate from today one or more fresh fruit or vegetable in every meal.